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Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014

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PLOrk performs 'A Horde of Premieres and Pianos'


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The Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk) performed seven new works in a show titled "A Horde of Premieres and Pianos" earlier this year. Read more.


Video Closed Captions

[music]

Rebecca Fiebrink:
PLOrk incorporates both a classroom component and a performance component.

If the class had just the classroom component or just the rehearsal and performance component,

it would be a lot of work, but the students that we have really step up.

They put a lot of effort into both components.

[music]

Dan Trueman:
So, in the first years of PLOrk, it was largely about survival.

At the concerts, we simply wanted to make things work,

and I think what's happened now is that we're not thinking about survival,

we're not worried about machines crashing.

We're really just thinking about making the best possible music we can.

When we started in 2005, PLOrk consisted of 15 people.

A couple of years later, we got this fantastic grant from the MacArthur Foundation

that enabled us to reinvent the whole thing.

Here we are, seven years in now and, I think, really reaching a new point musically.

[music]

Jeff Snyder:
(Talking to class) Exactly.

Last year, I did a more traditional piece where people had laptops and

there was a network communicating between the computers and

these kind of things, which a laptop orchestra does very well.

At the same time, I've been working consistently on this body of instruments that I consider my ensemble

of instruments that I would like to write music for.

In my contravielles, I was saying, "OK, I'm actually going to have some stuff over here that your

left hand does to control pitches, some stuff over here that your right hand does to control amplitude

and then it's sort of like a broken-in-half kind of string instrument.

Dan Trueman:
His instruments have these wooden resonators that look like old-fashioned instruments and

that feel like instruments in your hands,

and they make this kind of very warm sound in the room.

At the same time, he has embedded the newest technologies

in terms of sound production and human-computer interfacing and computation,

all inside the instruments.

I have to say, the students that we get in PLOrk are are just fantastic.

Jeff Snyder: So, these people got handed these instruments,

they had a semester to learn how to play them and to learn the piece.

So, it's like, "Hey, here's a violin.

Learn how to play the violin and learn this song by two months from now."

Dan Trueman: We get these students who are brilliant coders, brilliant musicians,

sometimes both at the same time.

Jeff Snyder: It is really a perfect environment to try to get people to do this.

[music]

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